The Petrified Forest


The Petrified Forest

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 11


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,876
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Movie Info

Burned-out British intellectual Alan Squier (Leslie Howard) wanders into the desert service station/restaurant owned by Jason Maple (Porter Hall). Alan finds himself an object of fascination for Jason's starry-eyed daughter, Gabrielle Bette Davis, who dreams of moving to France and establishing herself. Boze Hertzlinger (Dick Foran), Gabrielle's gas-jockey boyfriend, grows jealous of Alan, but the penniless, dissipated Briton has no intention of settling down; in fact, as soon as he mooches a ride from wealthy tourists Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm (Paul Harvey and Genevieve Tobin), he's on his way out of Gabrielle's life...or so everyone thinks. Later that same day, Alan, Gabrielle, Jason, Boze, and Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm are huddled together in the selfsame restaurant, held at gunpoint by Dillinger-like desperado Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) and his gang. Alan seems indifferent to the danger, toasting Duke as "the last great apostle of rugged individualism." Sensing an opportunity to give his life meaning, Alan takes Duke aside, begging the outlaw to kill him so that Gabrielle can travel to Paris on the money provided by Alan's insurance policy. When the police converge on the restaurant, Duke announces that he intends to use Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm as a shield in order to make his escape. Alan tries to stop him, receiving a bullet in the belly for his troubles. "So long, pal," growls Duke fatalistically, moments before his own death, "I'll be seein' ya soon." Alan dies in Gabrielle's arms, secure in the knowledge that, alone among the film's principals, she will be able to escape the trap of her existence. When originally presented on Broadway, Robert E. Sherwood's The Petrified Forest starred Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart. Warner Bros. intended to cast Edward G. Robinson in Duke's role, only to be thwarted by Howard, who told the studio that he himself would drop out of the project if Bogart wasn't retained. The film proved to be just the break that Bogart needed; years later, he expressed his undying gratitude to Howard by naming his daughter Leslie Bogart. One year after The Petrified Forest, Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard co-starred in The Stand-In. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Leslie Howard
as Alan Squier
Bette Davis
as Gabrielle Maple
Humphrey Bogart
as Duke Mantee
Dick Foran
as Boze Hertzlinger
Genevieve Tobin
as Mrs. Chisholm
Joe Sawyer
as Jackie
Porter Hall
as Jason Maple
Charley Grapewin
as Gramp Maple
Paul Harvey
as Mr. Chisholm
Eddie Acuff
as Lineman
John Alexander
as Joseph the Chauffeur
Arthur Ayleswofth
as Commander of Black Horse Troopers
George Guhl
as Trooper
Constance Bergen
as Mantee's Girl
Francis Shide
as 2nd Lineman
Gus Leonard
as Postman
Jim Farley
as Sheriff
Addison Richards
as Radio Announcer
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Critic Reviews for The Petrified Forest

All Critics (11) | Fresh (11)

Audience Reviews for The Petrified Forest

  • Oct 13, 2018
    Such a beautiful movie; shamelessly romantic, with lovely moments from a pair of kindred spirits who cross paths (Bette Davis and Leslie Howard), and yet with artistry and depth as well. Despite being in different places in life, they have an instant connection, one that's based on the higher things in life, art and intellect. The setting is a deserted place in the middle of nowhere, Arizona during a sandstorm, which creates a wonderful atmosphere. While it's a little stilted at times, it allows all of the characters to speak from the heart. I loved listening to Howard waxing poetic while drinking whiskey, with Humphrey Bogart glowering over the group menacingly. The dialogue throughout the movie is interesting, and includes pointed commentary about America during the depression. Director Archie Mayo tells the story well, without a wasted scene, even if we can see where it's going a little too early. The film is a must for Bogart fans, it was his first big movie, and though he was 37, he looks youthful, raw, and lean. I loved the little moment early on when he grinds his jaws in anger while listening to someone. He's the antithesis of Howard's character, and yet both have a fatalistic sense about them. Genevieve Tobin adds depth to the film in the supporting role of the wife of a rich man. At first she appears shrewish and overly critical of her husband (Paul Harvey), but gradually we find that she too, had more fanciful dreams in life. Of course, the film really belongs to Davis and Howard, and they're wonderful. The kisses they share towards the end are very sweet too.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 10, 2018
    What if college educated types ruminated on the soullessness of society and chose to broadcast those thoughts to the world at large? Boring, right? How to "get 'er done" then? By making those ruminations palatable, even poetic, and hiding them in the story of a gangster-on-the-run! So Leslie Howard spouts poetic musings left and right, college professorial pipe thoughtfully in the side of his mouth. A young Bette Davis gazes at him soulfully, her eyes never so big (and yet there is zero heat between them). Bogie is on hand simply as the heavy, the Angel of Death, only present to promise a cessation of Howard's character's unending poetic ramble, and (by my reckoning) he takes too long. High-end drama, decently presented, if obviously.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 02, 2013
    Simultaneously hopeful and tragic "The Petrified Forest" presents a great character study of a self-loathing and unaccomplished intellectual. In fact, the film maybe hit a little too close to home for me at moments.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 18, 2011
    I'm disappointed that The Petrified Forest wasn't as good as I was hoping.It felt like it was over before it started & there was really nothing there anyways.Key Largo isn't exactly the same as The Petrified Forest but it is similar & worth watching more then this movie
    Brody M Super Reviewer

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